On May 27, 2011, I posted a blog reporting that The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals had issued a very important decision in the world of Texas parole, involving the imposition of the controversial “Special Condition “X” in the lives of parolees.
The CCA held, unanimously, that the Parole Board is not permitted to impose sex offender restrictions on parolees who were never convicted of any sex crimes, without first having an evidentiary hearing and allowing the parolee to receive some level of due process protection. The Federal Court had already told them the same thing, but that Order was conveniently ignored.
There are literally thousands of people who are presently ordered to comply with Special Condition “X” who were never convicted of a sex crime.
It is my understanding that the Parole Board intends to have these thousands of people come in to meet with their Parole Officer who will then ask them to sign waivers so that the Parole Board can continue to impose Special Condition “X” .
This move allows the Board of Pardons and Paroles to avoid the need (and the cost) to have thousands of evidentiary hearings in order to determine whether it’s even appropriate to impose the condition in each case where the parolee was never convicted of a sex crime.
I hope, though I seriously doubt, that the Board will choose to simply remove Special Condition “X” requirements in a significant percentage of the cases at issue. Instead, I fear that most parolees will feel compelled to sign something they may not understand fully, especially because their parole officer is asking them to sign it. Afterall, Rule #1 on parole is that you don’t piss off the parole officer or he can see to it that you are back in prison.
I also fear that parole officers will be expected (required?) to get the parolees to sign the documents, so that they can avoid having to worry about things like due process, fairness, etc.
This is going to be a mess, and I expect that there will be some litigation to follow. I look forward to the possibility of participating in the fight to come.